23 June 2021

NatureScot Better Places Green Recovery funding for Aberdeenshire visitor management projects

Aberdeenshire Council has been successful in securing vital funding to help with visitor management at hotspot sites across the region.

The series of six projects and interventions are being supported by NatureScot through its Better Places Green Recovery Fund. 

Of the £2.75 million allocated by Scottish Government for the fund, a total of £103,313 has been awarded to Aberdeenshire to help ensure that services and infrastructure are in place to manage visitor numbers and behaviour during the 2021 season.

The fund was available to community groups and NGOs as well as local authorities, with applications submitted to address the challenges faced in coastal and countryside areas identified in summer 2020 in the Aberdeenshire Visitor Management Plan. The plan aims to provide a warm welcome and support exceptional experiences for the public to enjoy the outdoors and mitigate any negative impacts from increased recreation in sensitive or popular sites.

It also demonstrates actions being taken to mitigate the impact of visitor activity on local communities while promoting collaboration across estate and organisational boundaries ensuring a more positive visitor experience.

The six projects Aberdeenshire Council applied for were identified through feedback from communities, council officers and partner agencies and included:

• Two Seasonal Access Ranger posts – Seasonal Access Rangers will work with visitors, communities and land managers at weekends through the summer season to provide a welcoming and reassuring presence for visitors and communities. The Rangers will promote responsible countryside access to all countryside users, helping to manage the impacts of increased visitor numbers at Aberdeenshire’s rural hotspot locations

• Provision of open and clean public toilets at key honeypot sites to allow the 7 days a week re-opening of the public toilets at Glen Muick until October 31st and Monaltrie (Ballater) until September 26th.

• Supply of 200 ‘Responsible Parking’ and ‘Keep Britain Beautiful’ signage for Aberdeenshire Council sites and those owned/managed by private landowners and estates.

• Purchase of two variable messaging signs (VMS) on key access routes into key hotspot areas to manage the flow of visitor traffic and give advance warning of full car parks and to go to a ‘Plan B’ location. Messaging can also include national Covid-19 messaging.

• Installation of additional waste bins at sites across Aberdeenshire that have been identified in 2020/21 as needing additional resources to cope with the volume of waste and to prevent littering of the countryside.

• Funding for litter, barbecue and dog mess posters and stickers for use by six Community Waste Officers at sites across Aberdeenshire on council land and community notice boards, signs, and bins.

Cllr Peter Argyle, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: “I am delighted that the council has been awarded this funding from NatureScot which will help considerably with visitor management during the summer months ahead. These latest assets and resources will enable our teams to continue playing a very important role in identifying the issues across our coastal and countryside areas and influence visitor behaviour to park responsibly and to either bin litter or take it home.”

Vice-chair Cllr John Cox added: “We are very fortunate that the vast majority of visitors to Aberdeenshire act responsibly and treat our region with the respect that it deserves. But we are still experiencing issues around littering, inconsiderate parking and public toileting in hotspot areas. The new projects will help us to spread that responsible message even further and provide additional targeted resources where they are required.”